Many movie franchises get stale by the time they reach the third installment. “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Spider Man,” even “Jurassic Park” and “The Godfather,” all could not escape having a third installment that is noticeably weaker than their predecessors. And as “Iron Man 2” was nowhere near the spectacular feat that was “Iron Man,” I felt anxious about “Iron Man 3” taking another step down.
Lo and behold, “Iron Man 3” trumps “2” by a large margin, and even manages to be on the same level as the first “Iron Man.” With a whole slew of cool techs, a focused plot, a great ensemble cast topped off by another magnificent performance by Robert Downey Jr., this film was a pure joy from start to finish.
As I headed into the theatre, my main question was how the filmmakers would be able to continue the story from not only “Iron Man 2,” but also “The Avengers,” of which Iron Man played a central role. The issue was solved brilliantly, as the villain of the film, The Mandarin, though menacing and has a global reach, felt like he was localized to become solely Iron Man / Tony Stark’s problem. The story line follows Stark, who practically paints a bulls eye on himself by challenging The Mandarin, and subsequently establishes a vendetta to seek revenge upon those who hurt the ones he loves. Making matters personal for Stark effectively explains the lack of presence of Captain America, Nick Fury, Black Widow, etc.
Capping at over two hours, the film doesn’t feel long, as it moves on a brisk pace and was never boring. The supporting cast was great. James Badge Dale, who plays Aldrich Killian’s henchman, was a frightening presence and did a good job at making the audience hate his character. Gwyneth Paltrow takes it up a notch in this installment, playing a more integral part of the story and surprises us in the most entertaining fashion. The only under utilized role was played by Rebecca Hall, who is magnetic on screen and deserves more lines than she was given.
The ending of the film effectively wraps up the series as a trilogy, but with the amount of money this franchise has raked in, and as long as the charming Robert Downey Jr. desires to spend a few months to make another movie and make another ton of money from it, I’d be shocked if “Iron Man 4” is not already in the works.